I can remember being told to "get in touch with my feelings," and not having a clue what to do! I sat in one of those wooden depressed moods- unable to move. "Good men don't get angry at women" so I couldn't shout at the counsellor. "Real men don't cry" so I couldn't. I was immobilised... over flowing with emotion I couldn't or maybe didn't dare to feel.
How do we get past this point after a life time of clamping down on our feelings just to survive the job, the day, and the other blokes?
I reckon taking a break is one way. For those of us who mainly sit in offices, time spent in the garden digging, or time swimming or walking is good. Not sport which is competitive and becomes an exercise in denying many feelings, but reflective exercise. Something that slows the mind away from the everyday, and yet provides an outlet for the adrenalin that comes as fear and anger and all sorts of suppressed emotions bubble up. This kind of exercise is a relaxing of the soul. So it needs not to be too focussed. Digging up the veggie patch is one thing... beginning a complete re-landscaping of the front yard may be drifting back into work.
For farmers and labourers the issue may be different. The change may need to be away from physical work. At seeding time, just turning off the tractor radio may be enough to allow the mind to relax to the rhythm of the diesel and the circling of the paddock. Taking time to sit without the tele or the sports pages and just let the mind ramble while the body rests, is beneficial.
These changes invite feelings to begin to surface... sometimes for the first time in years. I suspect it is often not a pleasant time. Unpleasant feelings are like the scum that floats to the top while the golden grains of good feelings are sitting below. We have to deal with the scum first.
This slowing down and allowing time to feel is an ongoing thing. It's not something we get done in a weekend. It is a constant discipline. We are dealing with maybe 40 or 50 years of indoctrination not to feel. And our work place and much else of life will still not be wanting us to fee. The company does not want us to feel! It wants us to work!
So there is a task for life here for us guys, just like for our partners there is a life long task of not being subservient or staying in the background, or giving into the other female stereotypes that society wants to place on them.
We say we want to be with this woman for life. So we should not expect that being in partnership with them, and having to work at it should be any less than a life long task!
July 1 2001
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